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when it comes to Feminism does Fabio have a lot to answer for?

(20 Posts)
GlitteringGrass Sun 23-Aug-15 23:48:32

I mean Fabio twenty years ago, obviously

ezinma Mon 24-Aug-15 08:01:10

Gosh, I thought I was bad at starting topics. Could you be any less specific OP?

There's an interesting discussion to be had about romantic fiction: Fabio represented the kind of obviously escapist, exoticised fantasy lover that readers of a certain flavour of romantic fiction go looking for, and as a feminist I'm interested in how that archetype is constructed and where it emerges from. I'm not myself a big consumer of romantic fiction, so the appeal of the dim-but-hunky Latin Lover is a bit of a mystery to me, and obviously problematic in some respects from a liberationist perspective. But Romance is a genre in which many women find pleasure and meaning, and the fantasies that women of my age projected onto someone like Fabio would tell us a lot about (a certain kind of) women's sexuality in the 1990s – its hopes and joys, its freedoms and constraints.

However, Fabio himself is a pillock of the first order: "Women don't have morals anymore. The only thing they care about is what you can do for them." Oh my.

scallopsrgreat Mon 24-Aug-15 08:17:44

I don't even know who or what Fabio is! So I suspect I'll be struggling on this thread.

EmpressKnowsWhereHerTowelIs Mon 24-Aug-15 08:24:12

Well, ezinma's link explains who Fabio is but I missed him completely during the 90s.

scallopsrgreat Mon 24-Aug-15 08:34:53

Still none the wiser.

Apart from him clearly being a misogynist (something by which he is no means alone) I'm not understanding the connection to feminism.

EmpressKnowsWhereHerTowelIs Mon 24-Aug-15 08:52:59

No, I don't really get that either. Can you elaborate, Grass?

EBearhug Mon 24-Aug-15 09:02:40

I totally missed Fabio in the '90s, too, and given I went to uni in 1990, you'd think I'd be the right age to be aware. It's possible he had an influence on some people, but clearly not universally.

ezinma Mon 24-Aug-15 09:13:27

Fabio Lanzoni, most widely known by the mononym Fabio, is an Italian fashion model, spokesperson, and actor, who appeared on the covers of dozens of romance novels throughout the 1980s and 1990s.


I can't speak for OP but I suspect the 'link' to feminism is that in the 1990s, instead of dedicating their entire existences to overthrowing the patriarchy, some heterosexual women also found time to read romance fiction and enjoy sexual fantasies involving handsome but slightly ridiculous men. The argument which usually follows is that feminism is 'bound to fail' because (straight) women would rather dream about Fabio than about bonding with the sisterhood and cutting off men's penii, or whatever it is that the nasty feminists do.

I hope I'm wrong, but that's how I interpreted it. But I'd much prefer to read about the (complex) ways in which straight women enjoy romantic fiction, and what it is about Fabio that made him a fantasy archetype for a certain type (I want to say 'market') of women.

ALassUnparalleled Mon 24-Aug-15 13:36:16

I had to Google him and then went oh him, yuk

He looks like a muscle bound version of Francis Rossi , except Francis Rossi would probably be considerably more interesting to talk to.

WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Tue 25-Aug-15 21:21:31

I'd never heard of Fabio either, and having had a quick look at the link I'm still none the wiser. I didn't go "Oh HIM", I don't think I've ever seen that man before in my life.

I'm a similar age to EBear so if that's the age of people who are supposed to know who he is (let alone meet the claim "there weren't many people who were as big a deal in the 90s as Fabio"!!!!!!) then something's gone wrong somewhere.

Was he very famous in a different country maybe? I'm in the UK.

WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Tue 25-Aug-15 21:26:50

Reading the wiki it sounds like maybe he was famous in the states?

He's still not ringing any bells for me despite having read both links!

On romantic fiction, not an expert either. However, maybe in the 90s women got what they were given to a certain extent? Nowadays I know that slash fiction (M/M) is extremely popular with women, now that is definitely interesting from a feminist perspective.

MrsToddsShortcut Sat 29-Aug-15 10:09:41

I remember Fabio, although I was slightly surprised to see an entire thread dedicated to himconfused

I'm 45 and was an avid viewer of Dynasty and other trashy tv/media from the 80's and early 90's so maybe that's why he's on my cultural radar?

Either way, I don't know whether he genuinely was attractive to millions of women, or whether he was marketed to us as being attractive (iyswim). The way capitalism works is that we are 'presented' with what we are supposed to desire and that includes people as well as objects.

The thing about fantasies though, is that they are not real. I Fantasise about things that would be considered dubious from a feminist persepective, but they are not things that I would necessarily ever want to happen in real life. Healthy fantasies provide a safe space for us to experiment without hurt or damage, and in many cases, to subconsciously work through issues we find difficult. That may well include men like Fabio (who in his own way was a complete social construct - no-one is born looking like that!) and I find it hard to see that as inherently problematic in terms of feminism.

ALassUnparalleled Sat 29-Aug-15 12:01:40

I have no idea why I recognised him after googling him. I don't buy women's magazines or romantic fiction and am generally snobbish about popular culture/trashy TV/trashy films.

I do vaguely recall his being promoted as a man we were supposed to find attractive. (He isn't )

TeiTetua Sat 29-Aug-15 16:09:12

"The way capitalism works is that we are 'presented' with what we are supposed to desire and that includes people as well as objects."

But--you fell for it. In fact, "I'm 45 and was an avid viewer of Dynasty and other trashy tv/media from the 80's and early 90's..."

So is capitalism to blame, or is it us? They're selling what we want to buy. Oh yes I know, we've said it before, what we choose is what we've learned to choose--but still. Free will does exist. When it comes to entertainment, can it be that "The fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves"? (Adapted from a piece of entertainment that's managed to stay popular.)

Maybe we should just allow ourselves a ration of totally trashy fun and not criticise ourselves or anyone else for it. Just be aware of what it is and what we're doing, and maybe there's a useful lesson in our choices. When Fabio was around, I remember him as being a sort of cave-man type, but I can't recall him actually doing anything. Did he maybe seem wild but harmless? Anyway, for a middle-aged man it seems to me that the image doesn't work as well:

MrsToddsShortcut Sun 30-Aug-15 16:12:02

I know what you mean, but we are presented with these people as a fantasy; a package. For example, how many women would genuinely fancy David Tennant or Benedict Cumberbatch (as random examples of men who are attractive but certainly not conventionally so) if they were just blokes who worked in the IT department at work?

I guess what I mean is that within our culture, a small number of people are chosen to be elevated and so it's from that small pool that we nurture our fantasies. It is partially directed, and there is choice, but when I was 13 I had no ideas how it worked. I loved John Taylor to bits, but while it was partially because I genuinely loved Duran Duran's music, it was also because he was the one I found most attractive out of the 5 who were quite consciously marketed at me via Jackie/My Guy/Smash Hits /EMI etc. Much like 1D now. But at the time I genuinely thought there was some agency involved. I thought that I had somehow 'found' him.

I've now slightly lost track and am
unsure what my original point was -sorry! blush

RufusTheReindeer Sun 30-Aug-15 19:47:06



EBearhug Mon 31-Aug-15 00:33:09

I don't fancy Benedict Cumberbatch as he is, on the screen every 5 seconds. I do think he's a good actor, and he's probably interesting to talk to, but I can't imagine fancying him. Obviously I wouldn't be aware of either him or David Tennant if they weren't on TV every 5 minutes, though, and I've probably never seen either of them without carefully chosen lighting and makeup and so on. I mostly failed to have crushes on any '80s stars, preferring 1950s' Paul Newman - or real people. Actually, I'm still more likely to have crushes on real people.

EBearhug Mon 31-Aug-15 00:34:36

Some of this might have been because we didn't have a TV till I was 14, and then I didn't watch so much of it, so I just didn't get bombarded with images in the way other people did. And even then, I listened to R4 as much as R1. I was just middle-aged from about age 10, I think.

ALassUnparalleled Mon 31-Aug-15 00:48:00

Does "Jackie" still exist? I assume not. I thought it was awful. It read as if it had written in the 50s but with 70s pop stars parachuted in. When I was 14 I didn't have a crush on David Cassidy or Donny Osmond which is who Jackie was selling in the early /mid 70s but had huge crushes on Robert Plant and Ian Gillan.

I don't find Cumberbatch attractive at all. Aiden Turner however is gorgeous and was gorgeous in Desperate Romantics too. Tom Hiddleston too.

Re fiction, I'm reading Joanne Harris' The Gospel of Loki with of course Mr Hiddleston cast as Loki from whatever those (otherwise) terrible films were.

EBearhug Mon 31-Aug-15 01:01:42

I was going to say I don't think Jackie was still going even in the '80s, but apparently it closed in1993. Nonetheless, I don't remember it, and I read a lot of comics, then stuff like Mizz and Just Seventeen.

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